Hi friends. How are you doing? I know it’s a loaded question because so much is swirling in our world right now. It can get totally overwhelming. I say that from a place of privilege because I have not dealt with racism and exclusion on a daily basis the way Black people and other marginalized communities have. I am also here to say that it is not possible to be a strong support if you are not also taking care of yourself. Self-care looks like different things to different people. As I spent last week immersed in self-reflection, reading, news, research, Twitter, and more… I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was getting caught up in the overwhelming, mixed up multitudes of feelings that come with doing the work to help make the world a better place. So I sat down and made a list of self-care tips to help me get to a better mental state — while still doing the work. Here it is and I would love if you shared what has been helping you, as well.
Self-Care Tips to Help You Be a Better Advocate For Real & Lasting Change
Stay hydrated & make sure to eat
I’m pretty sure this is at the top of every post about self-care… because keeping your body hydrated and in top form is key! When I’m overwhelmed, I have a habit of shutting down and ignoring the basis things my body needs… it’s not good and definitely affects how my brain is able to function. I’ve found that I am much better at drinking water if it has ice in it and a glass straw. As for eating regularly, if you’re protesting and marching, please be sure to bring some snacks and other sustenance for yourself to maintain your energy!
Take a time out from the news (and Twitter…)
Trust me, the immersion in news and media is REAL and INTENSE. There were more than a few days last week where I turned on the news before I had even had my coffee for the day. The total immersion made me feel like there was no hope. I got caught up in the intense, minute-by-minute coverage of protests with wide open eyes…. and not a thought in my head other than sheer anxiety. I can to the realization that I couldn’t possibly help bring about change in that mindset.
It’s absolutely essential to stay informed and aware right now, but you also need balance. I’ve had to set strict rules for myself about how and when I consume media and news. Otherwise, I found myself in a spiral and totally unable to budge. But I am here to tell you: it is ok to take some time away. The news will be there when you get back and you’ll be an even better supporter when you’re rested and not as overwhelmed.
Do one thing a day that brings you joy
I genuinely believe that you can protest and speak out and have moments of joy in your day-to-day life. My thinking is that in protesting, we are demanding a better life for everyone, a life that includes happiness. It is so good for your mental health to take a break and do something that makes you happy — exercise, a walk, making a bomb meal, snuggling with pets… whatever it is, do it. For me, it’s going out to our chicken yard and chatting with them.
Sleep aids & meditation
I cannot express how important sleep is… and how hard it’s been to actually sleep. My mind won’t turn off and stop racing most nights, so I have been doing a combination of my prescription sleep aids and sleep meditations from Headspace. Usually the combination is enough to help me get to sleep in an hour or so. The difference in how clearly I am able to think after good sleep is night and day. Instead of zoning out and not being able to focus, I can actively think and express myself — all key components of the fight to bring equality to all.
Talk to your friends
Honestly, most of the growth I’ve made these past few days has been while talking one-on-one with my girlfriends about current events and what it means for us. These are the people I know the best and we all taking the time to do the work for ourselves. But the real power comes when we compare notes, challenge each other, have the dialogue and actively challenge each other.
At the end of the day, these self-care tips all amount to taking a mental step back and doing what your body and mind both need in order to make yourself a better, more focused, more aware, more complete supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. I also encourage you to read this post about 14 free mental health resources for protesters. And please leave a comment with any other self-care suggestions that have helped you!